Have you seen the exasperated look on the face of a waiter as he hurtles out of a kitchen that is on fire, performs the heimlich manoeuvre on a small child, serves a table of eight with nine different dishes and stops a pre-murderous wife from killing her husband by removing the steak knife in front of her ... and a diner in the corner shouts out: "I still haven't got the extra butter I ordered"?
We think if the Government had a 'look' at this time, juggling the saving of an economy, beating back the advances of a once-in-a-lifetime epidemiological event and not yelling at M Barnier about fishing rights it would be much the same. The Pre-Pack Pool in the corner shouts out: "We still have Government delays over clarifying our future and this can only serve to ensure our demise”.
The Pool caught this 'look', sucked its teeth, tutted audibly and said that a delayed report from the Insolvency Service into Pre-Packs, with recommendations as to their future regulation, was supposed to be published “by the end of summer”.
"We still haven't got it. What on Earth have you been DOING?" If you were the Government it would make you want to kick a kitten through an electric fan, wouldn't it?
"Now that parliament has reconvened will there be any impetus to have the report finally published?”, the Pool said churlishly.
A Government spokesperson whistled over a fork-lift truck carrying 15 tons of microfiche files marked 'very, VERY urgent' and checked the 13 bound volumes of priorities the driver passed to her.
"Not long now," she lied.
In case any non-insolvency bods have strayed onto this screen we should explain that concerns about a lack of transparency after the previous crisis (or was it the one before?) led Sir Vince Cable, business secretary in the coalition Government, to launch the Graham Review in 2013 which tightened the insolvency process and created the Pre-Pack Pool to review connected-party deals. Despite making such reviews a tantalising prospect by charging for someone who is not an insolvency professional to look over your case, referrals have remained mysteriously low since the Pool was launched. Its recent annual report shows that of the 260 connected-party pre-packs in 2019 only 21, or 8 per cent, were referred to the Pool, the lowest referral rate.
An amendment was made to the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill to extend until next June powers to regulate Pre-Packs, including mandatory referrals and the NTI newsroom have heard that this has now crept into bound volume 17 of priorities the Government absolutely must address before having another sneaky look at pensions and 5G.
Expect it soon.